Note: The information in this article applies to ArcGIS versions 10.0 and prior only. Later versions of ArcGIS may contain different functionality, as well as different names and locations for menus, commands and geoprocessing tools. To perform these actions in ArcGIS 10.1 and later versions, refer to How To: Import XY data to ArcMap and convert the data to shapefile or feature class at ArcMap 10.1 and later versions.
ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro cannot read data in degrees-minutes-seconds (DMS), and therefore this data must be converted into decimal degrees (DD) before importing.
The steps below are instructions for formatting XY data, in decimal degrees, using Microsoft Excel, and converting these data into a shapefile or geodatabase feature class in ArcMap. There are several table formats that ArcMap can read to bring point data into ArcMap as an event theme.
Note: In version 9.1 and earlier, ArcMap can read the following formats: DBase III, DBase IV, .prn, .txt, and .csv. If they exist, extra sheets must be deleted from these formats in Microsoft Excel.
Note: In version 9.2 and later versions, ArcMap can read the above formats along with .xls and .xlsx spreadsheets. In more recent versions of Microsoft Excel, DBase III and DBase IV file formats (.dbf) are no longer supported.
Note: In the later versions of Excel, the Print Area options are on the Page Layout tab.
Note: If the changes are saved, Excel converts the file to an .xls or .xlsx Workbook that can only be used in ArcMap at version 9.2 and newer versions.
Note: In version 10.0, click the Add Data button.
Warning: At version 10.0, ArcMap applies the coordinate system of the Data Frame to the XY Data. This coordinate system is likely to be wrong for the data.
Note: If a warning message regarding the missing Object-ID field is displayed, it is safe to ignore it and click OK.
As an example, GPS data is most often collected in units of decimal degrees or lat/long, which is a geographic coordinate system. Open this directory. Most frequently, GPS data is collected on the WGS 1984 datum, so open the World folder, and select WGS_1984.prj.
If the data has been collected on a different datum, refer to Geographic Coordinate Systems and Areas of Use to find the appropriate datum.
Note: If the data does not align with the reference data, refer to How To: Identify the spatial reference, projection, or coordinate system of data.
Note: If ArcMap prompts a 'different geographic coordinate system than other data in the map' message, navigate to View > Data Frame Properties > Coordinate System tab, and click the Transformations button to verify that the correct datum transformation is being used for the area where the data is located.
Note: For a list of geographic (datum) transformations and their areas of use, refer to How To: Select the correct geographic (datum) transformation when projecting between datums. Under the Related Information section of the article, download the list of transformations for the version of ArcGIS Desktop installed on the computer.